CSL’s foreign imports are lighting up the league in China, so why won’t their national team managers notice?
National managers overlook the form of the Super League’s top performers, so is a move to China the death knell for a player’s international career?
The Chinese Super League returned this weekend after the international break but for many of the league’s best-known names it was a case of itchy feet, returning to work after a week’s holiday.
This may come as no surprise but playing in China doesn’t necessarily make you the first name on the national teamsheet so not all of the CSL’s big names were selected to represent their countries during the variety of World Cup qualifiers and friendlies that disrupted the domestic schedule.
These are the players who will be asking if playing in the CSL is damaging their international football career.
The good news for them is that it doesn’t have to. There are those players that appear so undroppable that they would probably be selected for their country if they were playing pub football.
Tim Cahill and Asamoah Gyan both embody their national sides, and the Hangzhou Greentown man captained Australia to their win over Jordan, while Shanghai SIPG’s Gyan would have added to his caps tally for the Black Stars were it not for injury.
WATCH: Evergrande come out on top in the Guangzhou derby
Then there are those footballers that are still part of the national setup having established themselves while thriving in European football.
Hebei China Fortune’s recent recruits Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gervinho fall into this category and you get the impression that if they can stay free of injury they are important enough to their countries that they will continue to feature, as they did last week.
However, it appears that while the CSL’s big spending might have put the league on the map, it’s not necessarily a map that every national team manager is willing to take a look at.
Aliou Cisse has no place for Shanghai Shenhua’s Demba Ba in his Senegal squad, Jose Pekerman has overlooked both Ba’s clubmate Fredy Guarin and the free-scoring Jackson Martinez at Guangzhou Evergrande, and then there is the curious case of Dunga’s Brazil.
Dunga has the most international class footballers to pick from in the CSL. Ramires and the uncapped Alex Teixera at Jiangsu Suning, even Paulinho at Guangzhou Evergrande – who has put his Premier League nightmare well behind him – are of the calibre to pull on the famous yellow shirt. But the only players based in China that were picked for Brazil’s most recent qualifiers were Shandong Luneng’s Gil and Beijing Guoan’s Renato Augusto.
It’s no coincidence that both were players that Dunga came to rely on when they were winning the domestic league with Corinthians.
WATCH: Ramires and Stephane M’Bia both on target at the weekend
Of all of the Brazilians, it is Teixeira’s that is the most maddening case. The 26-year-old had reportedly wanted to boost his international chances by joining the Premier League and was heavily linked with Liverpool before Jiangsu Suning met the release clause in his contract at Shakhtar Donetsk. The move to East China over Anfield was seen as damaging to his chances of making his debut for the selecao.
That was the point of view of Chelsea’s Willian, and he’s a good authority on the subject having only established himself in the Brazil side after swapping Ukraine for England’s top flight.
This is a big year for the CSL but it is a bigger year in the careers of some of its newest faces.
This summer sees the centenary Copa America held in the United States and there is also the small matter of the Olympic Games football tournament in Rio – something that is taken very seriously in both South American and African football circles.
The likes of Jackson Martinez and Alex Teixera will want to be involved to prove that their careers have not been derailed by making the move to China.
They have reason to be hopeful. It’s not out of the question that a player plying his trade in what is regarded as one of the lesser leagues in world football can make such an impact that they force their
way into their national side.
Sebastian Giovinco’s form for Toronto FC in Major League Soccer (the top flight in the US) has him being linked with a return to the Italy fold ahead of Euro 2016 this summer.
The form of these foreigners is there for all to see now that all eyes are on the league; it’s just a case of the managers of their national teams tuning in too.
If they don’t then their clubs won’t mind too much – Martinez, Ba and Paulinho all returned from their week off with match-winning performances for their CSL sides.